Essays

Imbolc With Small Children

Originally posted on ThePaganHousehold.com on January 8, 2012

2011 was a pretty chaotic year for us. I don’t think we really did a great job of celebrating any Sabbat, much less big mainstream holidays or even birthdays.

There was a time where that really wouldn’t have bothered me, but my son, Acorn, is now 3½, and he’s at an age where he’s starting to understand holidays, and I wish we’d done a little better at it for him.

And that’s where the idea for this series of posts came from. For each Sabbat, I’ll post a planning post with links to various resources I find and with my thoughts on what we’ll do, and then I’ll post again after the Sabbat to talk about what worked and what didn’t. We don’t have years of history celebrating these holidays – all of our extended family is at least nominally Christian. My plan has been to keep notes so that we’ll have guidance, year to year, of what things we did that really resonated and what things were a flop so we don’t do them again.

Our household includes two children under the age of 4 (a 7 month old and a 3 ½ year old), so my main focus will be on including them in our celebrations. Both of my children have some special needs, so I’ll be including that in the plans. As of this writing, our baby is in a hospital, but doing well and preparing to come home in a few weeks, but it’s doubtful she’ll be home by Imbolc; if she is, we’ll see what new experiences we can give her.

Does your family do something different? We’d love to have you post about your religious holidays too!

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For me, Imbolc has always been a challenge. Here in Michigan, winter is just getting rolling come the first of February. It’s hard to envision it being a celebration of spring. The Dianic coven I trained in used Imbolc as the time of initiations – of starting new things, beginning new journeys, and preparing for the year ahead.

I started looking around online for ideas of what we would do this year. While I was researching, I read a site [1] that mentions that spring is coming, but it’s hidden under the snow – it’s “in the belly” so to speak, unseen but still there. So I’m hoping that thought helps me visualize this holiday better. Imbolc is also tied to Brigid (and thus to wheat and fire) and was historically celebrated with custards and other milk dishes, since milk was plentiful and new, even as stores of other foods were running low.

Hands-on things work well for my very spirited little boy. Things that involve moving are always good — the more energetic the better.

While searching, I found a page titled “13 ways to celebrate Imbolc” [2]. Among the suggestions here that I like are things like going through toys to give some to charity, making/decorating candles, planting seeds, and eating spicy food and dairy dishes.

Planting seeds could work here too. We used to have potted herbs in the house; there are none now for a variety of reasons, but having fresh again might be fun. We simply don’t have time to manage much of a garden, and frankly, the planting season runs so late here (our last frost date is May 15), we’d have to start things inside anyway.

Acorn probably wouldn’t grasp the concept behind giving away toys, but it’s a good precedent to set, and we have so many toys that the grandparents have given that we seem to be drowning in them.

Making candles with snow (or ice) is also suggested quite a few places [3]. We have a lot of restrictions on burning candles here due to the oxygen, but might be interesting to make some anyway.

The ADF [4] talks about making bird feeders, which is probably highly appropriate here in Michigan, given our usual snow pack at Imbolc.

So, I think we will start our day by making butter — the shaking of the cream will be a good energy burning activity. We’ll make fresh bread to go with it as part of our celebration. We’ll plant some herbs. We’ll have a very short ritual where we read a story – I’m thinking there must be something in Circle Round or Celebrating the Great Mother – and have bread with butter. After that, we’ll see what’s left. Maybe make some candles, maybe box up some toys, or make bird feeders – I’m thinking peanut butter on pinecones, rolled in seeds.

Now you just have to wait for next month, for me to let you know how it goes!

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Other Imbolc resources you might find useful:

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/imbolcfebruary2/a/AllAbout_Imbolc.htm

http://www.muddlepuddle.co.uk/mpblog/themes-2/festivals/imbolc/

http://www.kidsnkin.dragondreaming.com/?q=node/45

http://www.druidry.org/obod/intro/festivals.html

http://clatsopduck.awardspace.co.uk/imbolc.html

Notes:
[1] http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/02/expectancy-and-creativity-feast-of-brigid/
[2] http://www.widdershins.org/vol4iss7/05.htm
[3] http://www.essortment.com/pagan-parenting-imbolc-crafts-activities-children-55365.html
[4] http://www.adf.org/articles/kids/ol5/

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